Students fight hardline

April 11, 1997

Students in Slovakia have joined forces with actors and artists to demonstrate against state intervention in educational and cultural affairs.

Young intellectuals who support the demand for greater freedom draw parallels between the former communist regime and the growing state censorship and illiberal atmosphere in the mainly Catholic country, which had a "velvet divorce" from the Czech Republic in 1993. They have called for the resignation of the minister of culture, Ivan Hudec, whom they see as particularly belligerent and hard-line. A delegation of actors visited the ministry to air the grievances about political intervention in the arts and present a petition to the minister, but were removed by police after a sit-in.

Mr Hudec has refused to speak to student representatives arguing for greater rights in education. A reduction in state support is affecting many students, and some are opposing the government's plans to build a new university in Trnava, about 30 kilometres from Bratislava, that would be administered along religious lines.

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